After California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’d nominate a Black woman to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat if she were to retire before her term ends, the senator made clear that she has no plans to step down.
Asked what she made of the Democratic governor’s comments on having “multiple names” of Black women to appoint if she left office early, the California senator said Tuesday: “I don’t think he meant that the way some people thought.”
Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill that she intends to serve her full term in office and that people were “making a mountain out of a molehill” by questioning whether she’d retire. Feinstein’s current term doesn’t end until January 2025.
But on Tuesday, Newsom told reporters that the question was hypothetical and that he had “zero expectations” that Feinstein would retire early.
There have been zero Black women in the Senate ever since Kamala Harris became vice president in January.
Calls for Feinstein to step down have increased after progressive groups criticized her handling of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. Some have expressed concerns about Feinstein’s age — the 87-year-old lawmaker has served in the Senate since 1992.
Pressed by reporters Tuesday on whether she was “feeling able to fully serve,” Feinstein said: “Absolutely. I think that’s pretty obvious.”
Newsom chose Alex Padilla to fill Harris’s seat, making Padilla California’s first Latino senator. Many had called for Harris’s replacement to be a Black woman, with some of the names floated including Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, as well as San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a group committed to getting more women of color into elected office, told HuffPost that “regardless of whether Feinstein steps down,” Newsom’s comment “signals a shift in our political landscape.”
“Women of color are the future of Democratic leadership and no matter what the old guard thinks, we aren’t going anywhere either,” she said.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.